We love calling politicians “out of touch”. And politicians love making comments that remind us just how “out of touch” they can be.
The latest comments come from somebody who likes to claims he’s very much in touch, at least with those who reside in regional and rural areas.
But the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Nationals, Barnaby Joyce, proved otherwise when he urged those who can’t afford to buy a house in Sydney to stop complaining and explore other parts of Australia. “I live in one, it’s called Tamworth,” he told ABC Radio.
He made the comments in response to new data from Demographia which lists Sydney as the second most expensive place to buy a house in the world, behind Hong Kong. Melbourne takes out the sixth spot. According to Domain, Sydney’s median house price is now at $1,123,991.
Joyce said that he’s sick of hearing people saying the only house they can buy is in Sydney and it’s too expensive. “Houses will always be incredibly expensive if you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Just accept that. Houses are much cheaper in Tamworth, houses are much cheaper in Armidale, houses are much cheaper in Toowoomba.”
He added that those who have the “gumption” and make the decision to move West, will be able to find a “very affordable house”.
There are more than 4.3 million people living in Sydney, almost half of them in Western Sydney, well beyond the Harbour views Joyce eyes off when visiting the city. Last year the Daily Telegraph reported houses in Paramatta CBD in Sydney’s west joined the “million dollar club” – around 25 kilometres from Sydney Opera House, or 45 minutes by car (on a good day).
Of course Joyce is right in saying that some people who can’t afford to buy a home in Sydney or Melbourne could potentially buy one somewhere else. Recently, a report by Domain listed a number of houses across Australia available for less than $50,000. They found a “renovator’s dream” available for $25,000 in Broken Hill, and a $45,000 two-bedroom Queenslander in Collinsville, just three hours from Townsville. Our favourite was the “pinkest house” on the market, available for $49,500 in Norseman, just 726 kilometres east of Perth.
However he’s wrong in assuming that being able to afford a house elsewhere makes it possible to simply move there. There are jobs and careers and kids and schools and childcare centres and numerous other responsibilities to consider.
The problem also is that for many people, single women particularly, they would have to move a long, long way away to find something even remotely affordable. In Tamworth, the median price for a house is $245,000 – a figure that’s still well beyond the realm of possibility for many. Indeed the Demograhia survey lists Australia as the third worst market for housing affordability.